News | Radiation Therapy | August 04, 2015

ASTRO: Proposed 2016 Medicare Cuts Threaten Access to Community-based Radiation Therapy

Combination of measures could reduce payments 5-10 percent, forcing center closures and/or significant scaling back of services

ASTRO, MPFS, Medicare, CMS, payment cuts, community-based radiation therapy

August 4, 2015 — The American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has raised concerns about proposed additional payment cuts to radiation therapy in the proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for 2016, released July 8, 2015. All changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Freestanding centers estimate that the combined impact of the Medicare proposals would result in a 5-7 percent reduction in payment for radiation oncology services at community-based centers, although the cuts will vary and could be more than 10 percent for some centers depending upon their patient population.

The proposed CY 2016 MPFS includes several significant adjustments for radiation oncology care. The proposed changes include:

Setting reimbursement values for newly created treatment codes for conventional radiation therapy techniques and intensity modulated radiation therapy;
Increasing the assumed equipment utilization rates for radiation treatment delivery, which has the effect of reducing reimbursement for cancer treatment; and
Removing from the direct practice expense formula the costs associated with important equipment, most notably on-board imaging, which is critical to ensuring safe and accurate radiation treatments.


ASTRO represents radiation oncology physicians practicing in hospitals and community-based clinics and will submit comments and recommendations in a letter to CMS by Sept. 8, 2015.

“The implementation of these three dramatic policy changes at once represents too much, too fast for community-based clinics to absorb and could have devastating effects, particularly for those centers in rural and underserved areas. ASTRO and its members are very concerned that the cumulative impact of recent significant cuts, totaling about 25 percent during the past six years, plus these new reductions could seriously threaten access to care for many cancer patients by potentially forcing clinics to close or limit their services,” said ASTRO Chair Bruce G. Haffty, M.D., FASTRO.

Preliminary data from ASTRO’s approximately two-week survey of the almost 1,400 community-based radiation therapy centers in the United States indicates that with reimbursement cuts of five to 10 percent, nearly 30 percent of the practices may have to close their doors; approximately 62 percent may have to consolidate practice locations; and an estimated 41 percent may be forced to discontinue accepting patients covered by Medicare.

For more information:

Related Content

What is the cost of interrupting a radiologist?
News | Clinical Study | March 20, 2018
March 20, 2018 – A first of its kind study...
ASTRO Issues Clinical Guideline for Whole Breast Radiation Therapy
News | Radiation Therapy | March 12, 2018
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) today issued a new clinical guideline for the use of whole breast...
News | Business | March 08, 2018
Scranton Gillette Communications’ Imaging Technology News (ITN) was recently named a 2018 Azbee Award finalist in five...
Fysicon announced its acquisition by Canon Medical Systems Corporation.
News | Business | March 07, 2018
Fysicon announced its acquisition by Canon Medical Systems Corporation. Linda Elberse, CEO of Fysicon, stated: "Being...
MD Anderson and RaySearch Partner to Advance Adaptive Radiation Therapy
News | Treatment Planning | February 26, 2018
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and RaySearch Laboratories announced a new strategic alliance with...
Mirada Medical Releases DLCExpert for Radiotherapy Treatment Planning
Technology | Treatment Planning | February 22, 2018
February 22, 2018 — U.K.-based medical imaging software provider Mirada Medical has released DLCExpert, the first com
Mitchell Cancer Institute Selects RayStation for TomoTherapy Planning
News | Treatment Planning | February 16, 2018
The University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) in Mobile, Ala., has selected RayStation as its...
Radiography Education Enrollment Shows Marginal Rise in 2017
News | Business | February 15, 2018
Directors of radiography educational programs report the number of enrolled students increased slightly in 2017, while...
AHRA and Canon Medical Systems Announce 2017 Putting Patients First Grant Winners
News | Patient Engagement | February 14, 2018
The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) and Canon Medical Systems recently announced the tenth annual...
Overlay Init